Cornell University

For other uses of the name Cornell, see Cornell (disambiguation).

Template:Infobox University2 Cornell University is a private university located in Ithaca, New York, USA, and a member of the Ivy League. Cornell was founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell, a businessman and a pioneer in the telegraph industry, and Andrew Dickson White, a respected scholar and politician.


About Cornell

Cornell is well known for its research efforts as well as both its undergraduate and graduate education programs. Cornell's students hail from all corners of the globe, and represent over 120 countries and all fifty United States. Cornell consistently ranks in the top decile in college and university rankings; it ranked 14th in the 2005 U.S. News and World Report ranking. [1] (

The youngest of its peers in the Ivy League, the University has seven undergraduate and seven graduate level academic units, as well as three intercollege divisions, the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions, and the Cornell University Library. Cornell's main campus is situated on a rolling site of 745 acres (3 km²) overlooking Cayuga Lake, largest of the Finger Lakes, and the central portion is bounded to its north and south by picturesque gorges and waterfalls.

The Joan and Sanford Weill Cornell Medical College and Graduate School of Medical Sciences is located at the New York City campus. In addition, the university operates a medical school campus in Education City, Qatar, the New York Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, the Shoals Marine Laboratory off the coast of Maine (in cooperation with the University of New Hampshire), the New York State Cooperative Extension system, and several other teaching or research facilities around the world.

McGraw Tower houses the
McGraw Tower houses the Cornell chimes
From its founding in the aftermath of the industrial revolution and the U.S. Civil War as a university where the classics and more practical subjects, such as engineering and agriculture, were taught with equal fervor, to the establishment of the first American medical school outside of the United States in 2001, Cornell is a pioneer in American education—educational historian Frederick Rudolph once called it "the first American university." It was the first major institution in the eastern United States to admit women along with men, when the first women enrolled in 1872. Among other firsts, it awarded the first university degrees in veterinary medicine and journalism, taught the first course in American history, formed the first university publishing company, and awarded the nation's first doctorates in electrical engineering and industrial engineering. The School of Hotel Administration and New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations are the first four-year schools devoted to those fields.

The school colors are carnelian red and white, a play on "Cornellian" and Andrew Dickson White. Cornell does not have an official mascot, as the school is officially known as the "Big Red," but a bear is commonly seen as a mascot, which dates back to the introduction of the mascot "Touchdown" in 1915. The sports teams participate in the Ivy League and the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC). At sporting events, Cornellians sing the University's alma mater "Far Above Cayuga's Waters" and fight song "Give My Regards to Davy". People associated with the University are called "Cornellians"; "Cornellian" may also be used as an adjective and is the name of the university's annual.

Academic units

Cornell is a private institution, receiving most of its funding through tuition, research grants, and alumni contributions. Three of its undergraduate colleges as well as the graduate veterinary school, called contract or statutory colleges, also receive partial funding from the state of New York to support their research and service mission in niche fields. Residents of New York enrolled in the statutory colleges enjoy reduced tuition.

Cornell is highly decentralized; its colleges and schools have wide autonomy. Each defines its own academic programs, organizes its own admissions and advising programs, and confers its own degrees; the only university-wide requirements for a baccalaureate degree are to pass a swimming test and take two physical education courses. Periodically, the university attempts to resolve naturally arising redundancies by creating special interschool units (see Other units below). While students may take courses offered by the division, their enrollment remains with their individual college or school.

Seven schools offer undergraduate programs. Students pursuing graduate degrees in departments of these schools are enrolled in the Cornell University Graduate School. In addition, there are six units offering graduate and professional programs.

Undergraduate colleges and schools

Endowed colleges

Contract colleges

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The Law School Library

Graduate/Professional colleges and schools

All of Cornell's graduate and professional schools are endowed, except for the statutory veterinary school.

Cornell University Library

The Cornell University Library consists of twenty units. It is one of the largest academic research libraries in the United States, with over 7 million volumes in open stacks, 7 million microforms, 5 million computer files, and some 76,000 sound recordings in its collections in addition to extensive digital resources and the University Archives. It was the first among all U.S. colleges and universities to allow undergraduates to borrow books from its libraries.

Cornell University Press

Cornell University Press, established in 1869, was the first university publishing enterprise in the United States and is one of the country's largest university presses. It produces approximately 150 titles each year in various disciplines including anthropology, classics, cultural studies, history, literary criticism and theory, medieval studies, philosophy, politics and international relations, psychology and psychiatry, and women's studies.

Other units

See also : CORC, Cornell Theory Center

The campuses

Main campus

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Cornell's main campus is located in Ithaca, New York and is widely considered to be one of the best non-city schools in the country [2] (; Day Hall, the administration building, is located on East Avenue. The campus itself is situated on a rolling site of 745 acres (3 km²) on East Hill, overlooking Cayuga Lake and downtown Ithaca two miles (3 km) to the west. The 260 or so major buildings are mostly divided into quads for the Arts, Engineering, and Agriculture, a science lab complex, and the athletic complex.

Central campus is bounded to its north and south by spectacular limestone gorges and waterfalls. Dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses, and student centers are located on North Campus, north of Fall Creek Gorge, and on West Campus, at the bottom of the Library Slope ("Libe Slope"); after snowfalls, students are known to sled down the Slope on trays from the dining hall. East of the main campus lie the Cornell Plantations, approximately 3,600 acres (15 km²) encompassing an arboretum and botanical gardens as well as natural woodlands, trails, streams, and gorges. South of Cascadilla Gorge lies the student-oriented Collegetown business and residential district.

The first building, Morrill Hall, was erected in 1868, although Cascadilla Hall, a dormitory purchased some years later is slightly older. Cornell's signature landmark is McGraw Tower, which rises 173 feet and 161 steps from the ground. Constructed in 1891 adjoining Uris Library, it features the Cornell Chimes, 21 bells on which the Cornell chimesmasters play three daily concerts. The clock tower has been the target of a number of pranks. In 1997, a large pumpkin was placed on spire of the clocktower and a discoball in 2005. How either prank was engineered has not been discovered.

Contrasting with the Gothic, Victorian, and Neo-Classical buildings on the Arts Quad is the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, designed by I. M. Pei. Other notable buildings: Willard Straight Hall, one of the earliest student unions; Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, the largest academic building in the eastern United States; Duffield Hall, one of the world's most advanced nanotechnology facilities; and the Statler Hotel, adjacent to and associated with the School of Hotel Administration.

New York City campus

The New York Weill Cornell Medical Center is located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City. It is home to the Weill Cornell Medical College and Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, and has a long affiliation with the New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Although their faculty and academic divisions remain separate, the Medical Center shares its administrative functions with the Columbia University Medical Center, and is also affiliated with the Sloan-Kettering Institute for cancer research.

Other campuses

The New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, operated by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is located in Geneva, New York, 50 miles (80 km) northwest of the main campus. The facility now comprises 20 major buildings on 130 acres (0.5 km²) of land, as well as over 700 acres (2.8 km²) of test plots and other lands devoted to horticultural research. It also operates three substations, Vineyard Research Laboratory in Fredonia, Hudson Valley Laboratory in Highland and the Long Island Horticultural Research Laboratory in Riverhead.

The Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, located in Education City, near Doha, is housed in a large two-story structure designed by Arata Isozaki.

Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico
Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico

The Shoals Marine Laboratory, a seasonal marine field station dedicated to undergraduate education and research operated in conjunction with the University of New Hampshire, is located on the 95 acre (0.4 km²) Appledore Island off the MaineNew Hampshire coast.

The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, site of the world's largest radio telescope, is operated by Cornell.

The current and upcoming missions to Mars are managed by Steven Squyres and the Cornell Astronomy Department.

Cornell University maintains facilities in Washington, DC and New York City for its Cornell in Washington, Urban Semester, and Urban Scholars Programs.

Other facilities include

  • Cornell Biological Field Station at Shackelton Point in Bridgeport
  • Punta Cana and EsBaran biodiversity field stations in the Dominican Republic and Peru
  • Arnot Teaching and Research Forest natural resources center in Tompkins and Schuyler Counties.
  • Animal Science Teaching and Research Center in Harford, and Duck Research Laboratory in Eastport, New York
  • Offices of the New York Sea Grant, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and School of Industrial and Labor Relations Extension Service throughout New York State
  • Offices for Cornell-administered study abroad programs such as the Cornell-Nepal Study Program and Cornell-in-Rome

Student Life


Cornell is considered one of the most diverse campuses in the nation. There are more than 800 registered student organizations, running the interest gamut from kayaking to full-armor jousting, from the Cornell Collegiate Curling Program and a cappella groups to improvisational theatre, from political clubs and publications to chess and video game clubs. It also houses the largest fully student-run organization in the Ivy League in the form of its marching band. Cornell also boasts one of the largest fraternity and sorority systems in North America, with over 60 chapters involving about a third of the student body. Many groups are subsidized financially by the Student Assembly Finance Commission, a student-run organization that gives nearly $1,000,000 a year to clubs and organizations. The oldest student organization is the internationally recognized Cornell University Glee Club.


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Balch Hall is a women-only dormitory on North Campus

University housing is broadly divided into three sections: West Campus, Collegetown and North Campus. As a result of President Hunter R. Rawlings III's 1997 Residential Initative (, West Campus houses mostly transfer and returning students, whereas North Campus is almost entirely populated by freshmen. The only options for living on North Campus for upper classmen are the program houses, like the Latino Living Center (LLC), Akwe:kon, the Ecology House, the Multicultural Living Learning Unit (MLLU), Holland International Living Center (HILC), Risley Residential College, Ujaama, and Just About Music (JAM).

There is a residential college project under construction on West Campus, spearheaded by the completion of Alice H. Cook House in 2004. Completion of the five-"House" "residential college" campus will occur in 2010 [3] ( The campus dining services have been rated as one of the top college dining services many times in recent years.

A variety of off-campus housing options exist. Many homes in the East Hill neighborhoods adjacent to the University have been converted to apartments, and several high-rise apartment complexes have been constructed in the Collegetown neighborhood. A significant number of undergraduate students live in fraternity and sorority houses. Many "co-op" or other independent living units such as Watermargin, Telluride House, Young Israel, and the Wait Cooperative also exist.


Two beautiful, deep gorges cut through the Cornell campus. They are infamous for students who have leapt to their death. It's worth noting that, according to Cornell's Gannett Health Services (, over 10 years the average number of student suicides is two per year, consistent with national epidemiological data for college student suicides (1 per 10,000). This is half the national rate for individuals in this age group who are not in college. The myth that Cornell features one of the nation's highest suicide rates is promulgated by:

  • Suicides in the gorges by Ithaca residents and visitors
  • A media focus on Cornell
  • Word of mouth, conspiracy theories

Cornell is involved in a collaboration with the Jed Foundation ( and several other universities to enhance and evaluate university-wide efforts to identify and intervene with students in distress, prevent suicides, reduce harm related to mental health problems, and enhance student mental health.


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Cornell's 2002-2003 Ivy League Champion & Frozen Four Hockey Team

Cornell has one of the most diverse varsity athletic programs in the country. It sponsors 36 varsity teams. An NCAA Division I institution, Cornell is a member of the Ivy League and also competes in Eastern College Athletic Conference, the largest athletic conference in North America. Cornell's traditional football rival is the University of Pennsylvania; in 1993, the two institutions celebrated the 100th anniversary of their first game. More keenly followed in the present day are the men's ice hockey contests with Harvard University, although the rivalry has been somewhat one-sided in recent years, with Cornell leading 15-3-1 since the 95-96 season.

In addition to the school's varsity athletics, a wide variety of club sports teams have been organized as student organizations under the auspices of the Dean of Students.

Cornell's intramural program includes 30 sports. In addition to such familiar sports such as flag football, squash, or horseshoes, such unusual offerings as "inner tube water polo," and formerly "broomstick polo" have been offered, as well as a sports trivia competition.


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Cornell University has over 1,550 full-time and part-time academic faculty members, and an additional 1,600 affiliated with its medical divisions. The 2003-04 Cornell faculty included 4 Nobel laureates, a Crawford Prize winner, 2 Turing Award winners, a Fields Medal winner, 2 Legion of Honor recipients, a World Food Prize winner, 4 National Medal of Science winners, 2 Wolf Prize winners, 4 MacArthur Award winners, 3 Pulitzer Prize winners, 13 Alexander von Humboldt Award winners, 2 Eminent Ecologist Award recipients, a Carter G. Woodson Scholars Medallion recipient, 3 Presidential Early Career Award holders, 23 National Science Foundation CAREER grant holders, a recipient of the National Academy of Sciences Award for Initiatives in Research, a winner of the American Mathematical Society's Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement, a recipient of the Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics, a Packard Foundation grant holder, a Searle Scholar, a Keck Distinguished Young Scholar, 2 Beckman Foundation Young Investigator grant holders, and a NYSTAR (New York State Office of Science, Technology, and Academic Research) early career award winner.

Among Cornell's notable former professors are Carl Sagan, Norman Malcolm, Vladimir Nabokov, Hans Bethe, Clinton Rossiter, Richard Feynman, Kip S. Thorne, and Allan Bloom.


As of August 2003 Cornell University counted over 220,000 living alumni. The Office of Alumni Affairs and Development sponsors a wide variety of affinity programs, activities, and organizations, including annual Reunion Weekend and Homecoming Weekend festivities in Ithaca, and the International Spirit of Zinck's Night sponsored by Cornell offices and organizations around the world. The various classes, regional clubs, and special interest associations are coordinated by the Cornell Alumni Federation.

Cornell ranked first in gifts and bequests from alumni and third in total support from all sources (alumni, friends, corporations, and foundations) among U.S. colleges and universities reporting voluntary gift support received in fiscal year 2003-4. [4] (

Cornell boasts many notable alumni; see Cornellians for a listing.


Cornelliana is broad term used to refer to all things that are related to Cornell.


Dragon Day

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The very first Dragon Day in 1901. When the tradition began, it was known as "College of Architecture Day".

Main article: Dragon Day

Dragon Day is an annual celebration that began in 1901 and occurs, traditionally, on the Thursday before St Patrick's Day. The event's focus is on the burning of dragon designed by Architecture freshmen at the hands of Engineering students on the Arts Quad.

"Far Above Cayuga's Waters"

Main article: Far Above Cayuga's Waters

"Far Above Cayuga's Waters" is Cornell's alma mater. The lyrics were composed in 1870 by two roommates to the tune of "Annie Lisle", a popular ballad of the day. The song is considered to be one of the best known alma maters in the world as it has been adapted and adopted by numerous universities, colleges, and high schools both in the United States and the world. The song traditionally concludes campus concerts by the Cornell University Glee Club.

Freshman Beanies

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Freshman can be seen wearing their beanies to a football game in 1919.

In the first part of the 20th Century, male freshman at Cornell were required to follow a eleven strict rules published in the freshman handbook. These ranged from "No smoking on campus" to "Give your trolley seat to an upperclassman." Number four on that list was "Wear your cap." The cap was a red beanie with a grey button on top. Freshmen boys wore their hats until the annual spring beanie burning. This rule was taken very seriously. One student, Frederick Morelli '1924 was chained to a tree for two hours and dunked in the lake for refusing to wear his cap, thus earning Cornell the name "Lynch College". By the 1960's, this tradition had disappeared. More information (

"Give My Regards to Davy"

Main article: Give My Regards to Davy

"Give My Regards to Davy" is Cornell's primary fight song. It was written in 1904 by three roommates at Beta Theta Pi to the tune of George M. Cohan's "Give My Regards to Broadway". Cornellians sing this song at sporting events, especially hockey.

Slope Day

Main article: Slope Day

Slope Day is an annual day of celebration, held on the last full day of classes (usually the first Friday of May). Though Slope Day has gone through many reincarnations since its inception in 1901, in recent years focus has shifted to live musical performances open to the Cornell community and a select number of guests. Students gather on Libe Slope to enjoy the music and party. Recent performers include Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, N.E.R.D., Dilated Peoples and Fat Joe. Slope Day is often criticized for the excessive drinking that many students participate in before, during, and after the scheduled events.

Swim Test

In 1918, at the urging of the Director of Women's Physical Education, Cornell began requiring that all female students must pass a swim test before graduating. In 1937, the school expanded the swim test requirement to all undergraduates. Despite reviews of this policy over the years, all students still, before graduating, must pass a swim test or take one semester of swim instruction as part of their physical education requirement. Colleges and universities with similar swimming requirements include Stanford and Bryn Mawr.


When snow comes to Cornell, dining trays begin to disappear from the dining halls. Students steal the trays in order to participate in traying, a long held Cornell tradition where students congregate on top of Libe Slope to slide down on the trays. Due to the safety hazards associated with moving down the Slope, which has patches of trees on it, at such high speeds, the administration has published warnings outlawing this tradition. Regardless, Cornellians continue to slide down the Slope every winter.


The Arts Quad Statues

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On the Arts Quad exist two statues memorializing the founders of Cornell, Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White. According to the legend, if a virgin crosses the Quad at midnight and the bells chime, the two statues will walk off their pedestals, and take the other's place. Other legends go that the statues will meet at the center and shake hands, or that they will dance a jig to celebrate the student's purity. To this day, the statues have never switched places, shaken hands, or danced. It should also be noted that the bells do not mark midnight. Every year since 1936, Phi Sigma Kappa has repainted footprints on the Quad to memorialize the legend.


The widow of Willard Straight made several reportedly unsuccessful attempts to contact her late husband through mediums. Hiram Corson (1828-1911), a Professor of Anglo-Saxon Literature, was purported to have had posthumous conversations with Robert Browning and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. On a more permanent basis, ghosts are said to haunt several buildings on the Cornell campus.

In Risley Hall, the namesake of the dormitory, Prudence Risley, flits about the building, flickering the lights. During its days as the Residential Club, Ecology House suffered a fatal fire, whose victims are credited for strange lights and voices. Some say that the Statler Hotel is haunted by the building's namesake, Alice Statler; other buildings said to be haunted include the Undergraduate Admissions Office, McGraw Tower, and the Sigma Chi and Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity houses among others.

If a bride is married in Sage Chapel, she will probably use the crypt to prepare as no other appropriate room exists. Within that crypt are buried the founders and numerous other important contributors of the University. If the bride waits long enough, it is said the spirits may rise to bless the marriage. More information (

Hoy Field

One campus legend says that the first person to hit a homerun out of Cornell's baseball field was future U.S. president George H.W. Bush while he was a student at Yale University. This legend is not true. The first player to hit an outside-the-park homerun was a student at Syracuse University. Interestingly, however, the second person to achieve this feat was then student at Columbia University and future hall-of-famer Lou Gehrig.


Many Cornell legends relate to relationships. One says that if a student refuses a kiss on the suspension bridge that stretches across Fall Creek next to the Johnson Museum of Art, the bridge will collapse into the gorge. Another legend says that if a couple walks around the entire perimeter of Beebe Lake while holding hands, the two are destined to be engaged. Yet another legend says that about 60% of Cornell students marry each other. In reality, the number is closer to 8% (


Campbell's Soup

Campbell's Soup cans' colors are red and white. Cornell's colors are red (carnelian, specifically) and white. The similar colors are no coincidence. In 1898, Herberton Williams, a Campbell's executive, convinced the company to adopt a red and white color scheme, because he was taken by the crisp colors of the Cornell University football team's uniforms.

Items Atop the Clocktower

At least two times, students have placed items atop the clocktower secretly in the middle of the night. In October 1997, a pumpkin was found speared onto the top of the clocktower. The pumpkin remained until it fell off months later. It has since been memorialized as an ice cream flavor produced by the Cornell Dairy. A piece of the pumpkin is stored in the Wilder Brain Collection. In April 2005, a disco ball was found tied onto the clocktower with climbing rope. According to the Cornell Police, someone gained access to the top of the clocktower by breaking a sealed hatch on the clocktower and then free-climbing up the roof. Article on Pumpkin  ( Article on Discoball (

Hugo N. Frye

In 1930, Republican leaders across the United States received letters inviting them to a celebration in Ithaca to celebrate the 150th birthday of Hugo N. Frye, the founder of the New York Republican Party and coiner of the immortal phrase "Freedom in the land of the free." Many leaders sent replies lauding the great work done by Frye, which were read at the celebration. Much to their embarrassment, a New York Times reporter got a hold of this story and discovered that Frye was the creation of Lester Blumner and Edward Horn, two editors for the Cornell Daily Sun. The "Hugo N. Frye" prank has since been considered to be one of the great college pranks of all time. More information on the prank (

The Stump

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The Cornell Stump

In the 1960's, Dutch Elm Disease finally killed all the elms on Cornell's campus. In 1969, the grounds crew left one stump to be a lasting reminder of the elms, affectionately known to Cornellians as The Stump. For a decade, students used the stump as a combination soapbox/message board, delivering speeches from atop the piece of wood and tacking posters to its sides. In 1975, a student group sawed down the stump in the middle of the night and ransomed it for charity. Unfortunately, though the grounds crew reattached the stump, vandals knocked it over again. The stump stayed down, never again to be raised. More Information (

Quill and Dagger and Sphinx Head

Main articles: Quill and Dagger and Sphinx Head Society

Of the numerous class societies active in the early 20th century, two have survived: Quill and Dagger and the Sphinx Head Society, both secret senior honorary societies. Membership is extended to acknowledge seniors who exemplify leadership, character, and service to the university, and mutually exclusive between the organizations.

The White Library Bell

When Andrew Dickson White returned to the United States in 1894 from his post as the minister to Russia, he brought back a 361 pound church bell. For many years, janitors rang the bell to warn students of the library's nightly closing. Due to complaints about the "booming resonance" of the bell, librarians began ringing a smaller bell to warn of White's bell. Today, White's bell is stored in the Andrew Dickson White Reading Room in Uris Library. White's recollection of buying the bell (

External links


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